Chapter 2: Early history of the Trust, the Deed and Royal Charter

Original deed and letter of 1903.

Carnegie the philanthropist receives honour

Andrew Carnegie set up The Carnegie Dunfermline Trust by way of a trust deed. LINK The deed was accompanied by an explanatory letter dated 1903. LINK The terms of these documents gifted the Pittencrieff Estate (70-acres of parkland) purchased from William Maitland Hunt, together with $2.5 million in 5% bonds to be used for the purpose of providing a recreation park for the people of Dunfermline and doing other good works. The Carnegie Dunfermline Trust Deed set out the number, nature and duties of the Trustees who would administer the bequest.


First job of the Trust is to make a recreation park for the people.
Andrew Carnegie was a man of simple language—a founder of the American Plain Language Forum—and he set out the purpose of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust in the explanatory letter to his Trustees, which is an integral part of the Trust Deed. In this 1903 letter Carnegie explained that the first task of the Trustees was to make a recreation park for the people, which would have structures around its perimeter for music and the arts. No doubt mindful of his radical roots, LINK Carnegie added the following caution to the Trustees:
“As it is the masses you are to benefit it follows you have to keep in touch with them and must carry them with you.”

Carnegie foresaw that the vast amount of money the bonds realised in interest were too great to be used on the recreation park alone and he advised his Trustees to provide beneficial facilities outwith the park (Libraries, Health Clinics, and Sports facilities) so that the citizens of Dunfermline might have what citizens of other cities did not have. Carnegie had the vision to predict that the municipal authorities would eventually provide some of these services at which time he told his Trustees they must move on to other fields.

Elected representatives safeguard the citizens’ gift.
Carnegie also recognised the need to have his gift stewarded by a wise and eclectic group of men (no women for such tasks in those days). Carnegie’s original trust deed nominated 16 trustees, all had to be men living within Dunfermline and its immediate vicinity. Carnegie chose 2 landowners; 4 manufacturers (factory owners); 3 professional men (surgeon, architect and musician) 2 clergymen; 4 lawyers, and 3 working-class men. The nominated trustees were to serve a period of 3 years and then be eligible for re-election by their peers

In addition to this and as a safeguard against the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust becoming a self-perpetuating elite Carnegie stipulated that the local authority of Dunfermline, which at that time was the Corporation of Dunfermline provide 6 elected representatives (Bailies as the councillors of the day were known) and 3 from the Dunfermline School Board.

Carnegie’s provisions for trustees ensured that the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust would be representative of the population. He even considered appointing a Roman Catholic clergyman as a trustee, but was persuaded by his Chairman, Dr John Ross, that this was a step too far for Dunfermline at that time. However if one considers that the Baillies, the elected representatives, of the Corporation of Dunfermline, and some of the School Board members were likely to be drawn from the working classes, and as three working men were nominees, the ordinary people of Dunfermline were well represented on the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust.

The history of the Glen.
A book, written by John B. Mackie and published by the Dunfermline Express in 1903 entitled: “Pittencrieff Glen Its Antiquities, History, and Legends” is perhaps the definitive work on Carnegie’s gift of the Glen to his native home. LINK This book records that at the inaugural meeting of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust on Date 28th August 1903 the then Chairman, Dr John Ross summed up the immediate tasks at hand when he stated:
“The Park and the Glen are ready to our hand. They may be rendered available almost without a day’s delay, but to extract from them all the advantages of which they are capable may give us work, for years to come. Our founder has pointed out that, on the skirts of the Park there are sites for numerous structures adapted, of course, to purposes in keeping with the scope of our Trust, and already we have had suggestions for halls, museums, winter, gardens, art galleries, exhibitions, and such like. All these suggestions we shall duly and carefully consider, but we must remind our advisers that although we have money we have no magician’s wand which can rear an institution in the course of a night. While the Park has ample room for sites, it is delightful to think that both it and its companion the Glen are in virtue of their own nature well fitted to give pleasure to the whole community. They can be conceived as thronged with citizens strolling about enjoying the sunshine and the shade, the grass, and trees and flowery and with all there will still remain ample space for the young people and their sports and pastimes. Provision for musical entertainments—vocal and instrumental, and lectures— oral and illustrated, may also be immediately proceeded with. Artistes of eminence may be engaged for popular concerts, as well as choirs and bands.”

One Glen in perpetuity as a recreation park.
It is important to note that Dr Ross, the first Chairman of Trustees, a friend and confidant of Andrew Carnegie, was quite clear in placing on the record that the benefactor wished that all of the Pittencrieff Park, the inner Glen and Park fringes were to be used for recreation purposes for the benefit of the people of Dunfermline in perpetuity.

At this first meeting of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust Dr Ross also commented on the need for the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust to be linked to the people of Dunfermline when—on behalf of the nominated members—he welcomed those members elected by the Local Council and School Board. LINK

These members Dr Ross stated would add strength to the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust and preserve a link between the nominated members and these public bodies whose members are of course elected by the public.

Early success for the Trust rewarded by more bonds to set up Hero Fund.
Dr John Ross’s stewardship for the first five years of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust must have been more than satisfactory, because Andrew Carnegie wrote a letter to Dr Ross from Skibo Castle stating that theCarnegie Dunfermline Trustees who to my great satisfaction are administering the Trust created by the Deed [original Trust Deed and letter of 1903] were to receive a further $1.25 million in bonds to fund the Carnegie Hero Fund Trust. This was an extension of a Hero Fund that Carnegie had established in the U.S.A. to provide income for heroes and heroines in civil situations or their widows/dependants.

As with his 1903 Carnegie Dunfermline Trust Deed, Carnegie did not rely solely on the legalese of the drafters of the trust deed but again insisted that an explanatory letter, LINK to Dr. John Ross, Chairman of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, dated 21st September 1908, be considered as an essential part of the Carnegie Hero Fund trust deeds.LINK

The Carnegie Hero Fund Trust was established by trust deed on the 17th October 1908.

More money gifted to boost the coffers.
On 19th January 1911 Andrew Carnegie placed at the disposal of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trustees an additional quarter of a million pounds, increasing their annual income to about £37,000 (equivalent to £2,111,220.00 in today’s money).

Incorporation of Dunfermline and Hero Funds by Royal Charter.
On the 28th February 1919 the Trustees with the blessing of their benefactor, brought the two trusts together by means of Articles of Incorporation and Royal Charter, which united the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust and the Carnegie Hero Fund Trust. LINK The new body was entitled the Carnegie Dunfermline and Hero Fund Trustees, and is known as this to the present day.

The articles of the new body encompassed the original 1903 Carnegie Dunfermline Trust Deed and letter, as well as the Carnegie Hero Fund Trust Deed and letter of 1908. The provision to make application for a Royal Charter was something that had been provided for in Carnegie’s original trust deed of 1903.

Carnegie dies knowing his gifts are protected by Royal Charter?
It must be the case that before Carnegie died he was comforted by the knowledge that his most precious gift, the Glen, was enshrined in a Royal Charter with all of the safeguards that such Royal patronage bestowed.

Carnegie may have decided to opt for having his gift of Pittencrieff Park enshrined by Royal Charter and stewarded by nominated Trustees as opposed to being gifted to the people as a common good asset and stewarded by the Burgh Council because of what happened to the gift of land in Dunfermline by Robert of Crail. This large area of land has all but disappeared and the stealing of common land by landowners in Dunfermline was known to Carnegie as his uncle Bailie had fought and defeated the owner of Pittencrieff in the courts over one such attempted common-land grab.

Even today the present stewards of the rump of Robert of Crail’s gift to the people of Dunfermline (Fife Council) fail in their legal obligation to keep records of the extent of this land and as a result most of this has disappeared into private hands.

Carnegie had witnessed similar corruption of democracy by the council of his day; had saw his uncle Tom Morrison fight against it, and probably thought that by entrusting his precious gift of Pittencrieff to hand-picked individuals who were constrained by the specific terms of a Royal Charter he was safeguarding his gift to his townsfolk in perpetuity.

Little did Carnegie know that some 90 years after his death the Royal Charter would become the instrument of changes that are totally repugnant to his original trust deed, and might lead to the loss of parts or indeed all of Pittencrieff Park.

Carnegie said in his autobiography that not for a crown would he barter the privilege of handing Pittencrieff Park over to public ownership. It must be the supreme irony that it might be The Crown that facilitates the removal of the park from that public ownership.

It is reported that Andrew Carnegie had wrestled with the dilemma of whether to be buried in his beloved Glen in Dunfermline or his adopted home in the United States and eventually settled for the latter.

He is buried in a corner plot in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown, New York, beneath a simple Celtic cross cut from granite quarried at Skibo, bearing the brief inscription “Andrew Carnegie Born Dunfermline Scotland 25 November 1835 Died Lenox Massachusetts 11 August 1919”.
Young Carnegie